What is dementia?

Dementia is a catch-all term that is used to describe numerous, and varying conditions that affect the brain. 

We can look at it as a progressive loss of cognitive functioning that interferes with an individual’s natural ability to remember, think, and reason. It is a neurodegenerative syndrome that literally changes the structure and chemistry of the brain.

Because of this, those living with dementia can exhibit personality changes over time. 

I do feel It is important to establish here that the person is not trying to be difficult, argumentative, or in some cases aggressive. 

Simply put, their brain is no longer functioning as it was and it is gradually deteriorating

It is widely accepted that various disorders and other contributing factors lead to the development of dementia and a progressive, irreversible loss of neurons and brain function.

There is currently no cure, no magic pill, no silver bullet. In fact, because dementia is caused by different diseases it is unlikely that there will be a single cure for dementia. 

Therefore, research is focusing on finding cures for dementia-causing diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies

So remember, dementia is the umbrella term that includes some of the following main types. We’ll take a look at these types and their causes;

  • Alzheimer’s disease – the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults with experts calculating between 60% and 80% of people with dementia have this form. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
  • Frontotemporal dementia – a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
  • Lewy body dementia – a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies (named after the scientist who discovered them). Doctors believe this to be the second most prevalent form of dementia in the US.
  • Vascular dementia – a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Examples are people that have had strokes or have heart disease.
  • Mixed dementia – a combination of two or more types of dementia with the most common combination being Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease starts and influences each other.

With mixed dementia it gets tricky since now we have several types of dementia that can result from either two or more of the above already mentioned dementia types or can develop from other diseases.

Dementia in any form is terrible and debilitating, not only for the individual but heartbreaking for their loved ones to witness. It affected our family and will affect many more. By sharing our story we hope to raise awareness and help those in their own journey as they navigate through this.

Research is being done to help with symptoms and to try to find a cure. As of now, the best course of action is lifestyle changes such as eating healthy and exercising. We’ll cover lifestyle improvement in a future blog as this is something that we strongly recommend and have implemented ourselves.

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